Why I Love Tattoos

Published January 13, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

For any of you who know me in real life, and/or have me on Facebook and Twitter, you will already know that I am very excited about getting two more tattoos in the very near future.  I am booked in on Monday to get the first of these two, on the top of my right foot, and will book the second one while I am there, which is for the inside of my left forearm.

I already have three tattoos; a pink balloon heart on the inside of my right forearm, a pink lotus flower on the top of my left foot, and a Far Side cartoon cow on my back above my left shoulder blade.  I also have the intention of getting a lot more than just the two I have planned now.  The only thing that prevents me from going all out and getting full sleeves and work on my legs and torso is that quality tattoos are an investment, so I have to pace my spending.

Check ’em out…

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I don’t have a photo of my cow, it’s hard to photograph my own back, and she’s very faded and bluey-green now, so it’s not so nice to photograph.

There is a reason I love tattoos other than it annoys my mother that I have them.  I love them because they make me feel beautiful about my body.  As someone who has suffered body image and self esteem issues my whole life, been fat since I was 11 and who has drifted in and out of eating disorders since I was in my early teens (these days I thankfully seem to be out of them, I would like that to be permanent), I have always struggled with finding my body beautiful.  The first time I ever did have something I totally loved about my body was when I got my first tattoo, the cow on my back.

I felt that at last, here was a part of my body that I had some control over.  Here was something I was doing to MY body for ME, and not for anyone else.  Not to make me more acceptable to society, not to impress a guy, not to fit some kind of norm for others.  It was another 15 years before I was tattooed again, the next two were done on the same day 18 months ago, and again that feeling was there.  Now every time I look at the parts of my body that have tattoos, they look and feel beautiful to me.

Another thing is that when I get ink, I always choose a design that means something to me ABOUT me.  I’ve not got tattoos to honour anyone else, or to commemorate events.  Each of my tattoos has a meaning around my self esteem or messages to myself.  Whether it be reminders about what is important in life, or something that expresses things I like about myself.

Being tattooed makes me feel just that bit more confident about my body.  I’m even booking in to have a manicure and pedicure on Monday before I go to the tattooist, just so that my feet are all pretty ready to be photographed when I have my fresh ink.  Something I would have never done years ago, which probably seems silly to a lot of people, but I didn’t even have the self confidence to allow my hands and feet to be touched by anyone I didn’t know closely.

So, do any of you have ink?  If so, what have you got and why did you get it?  Do you think it changes your self esteem/self image at all?

31 comments on “Why I Love Tattoos

  • I adore tattoos. I have one right now. It’s a piece of carrot cake on my hip. It’s got many meanings, but mostly it celebrates my coming to terms with and having a normal relationship with the love of my life – cake. (ok, all food)

    I am currently planning three more.

    To me, the tattoo is something that says… this is MY body. I shall adorn it as I wish. No one will tell me what to do with it except me.

    • Carrot cake! I love that! Aren’t quirky tattoos awesome?

      I am planning a gajillion more. More than I possibly have skin enough for, and I’ve got a lotta skin.

  • Loved reading your thoughts on tattoos. I’m currently about 23 hours into a full sleeve on my left arm. My big, huge left arm that should never be allowed to see the sun, if I’m to believe what fashion mags tell me about my “flaws.” This tattoo means so much to me for a few reasons. First, I’m incorporating a forearm tattoo I got earlier as a reminder to keep starving myself to try to lose weight. I am SO not there any more, but I didn’t want to cover that tattoo because it reminds me of how far I’ve come. Second, it’s about accepting my body as it is now, not waiting until I’ve lost 50 or 100 or 300 pounds to make it “okay” for me to invest in this piece of art and myself. Third, it’s encouraging me to show off my beautiful body! I get so many positive comments. One girl at the store told me “your arm is so pretty!” MY arm! My thigh-sized arm! And last but not least, it’s helped me reframe some of the negative vibes I get from people out in the world. Now when someone gives me the stink-eye, I can just think “oh, they must not like tattoos,” rather than “they think I’m a horrible person because I weigh 450 pounds and OMG maybe I am a horrible person…”

    I love being tattooed, and I may get more… but let me finish this one first.🙂

    • Michelle I intend to get both sleeves done. And I have thigh-sized arms too. Or as some douchebag that commented on an earlier post here said – fucking huge rolls. Which means I have lots of acreage for beautiful ink! Take that haters! I can get way more ink than you!

      I too held off on getting ink until I was thin. Thus the 15 year gap between my first piece and the two pictured. Now I’m just going to go nuts and get as much as I can afford to get.

      I’d love to see pics of everyone’s ink!

  • That is a beautiful story, and I love your tattoos. I’m from an older generation, and never really wanted a tattoo until this past year. My long-time husband and I had been having some serious problems, and I had decided to get a divorce. I had a wonderful magicicada design planned. That’s the technical name for the 17-year locust. It was the first time I felt so utterly symbolized by something. It represented emerging from the ground after 17 years of marriage to fly and do what I want. It is also a big, ugly bug, and most people looking at it would kind of just wish I would cover it up. That seemed to represent perfectly society’s views of fat, middle-aged divorced women, and I loved the idea of reflecting society’s views back at them. It was perfect, and the only thing I regret about our stupendously successful time in marriage counselling is that I no longer have reason to get that tat.

    Someday, though, maybe a happier design will seem perfect, and I’ll get one.

    • I’ve heard of those locusts and always thought they were awesome. What an awesome idea for a tattoo and the significance behind it is wonderful.

      I daresay once you get that first one, you’ll be plotting and planning the next one, and the one after that, and the one after that…. They truly are addictive.

  • I love tattoos too! I’m planning my 7th for when the convention comes to Philadelphia in March. Though two of mine are large names (first and middles names of my daughters). I am getting a cupcake on my left foot in March. Cupcakes, though popular in today’s culture, mean a lot to me personally. My older daughter, at almost 16, is moaning about wanting one and I tell her she can get her first one at the same age I was – 31! (I’ll be 50 in March)
    Good luck with your upcoming ink and make sure to share photos🙂

    • I love cupcakes. My business card has a cupcake on it, and it’s the signature pic of my other blog (http://sleepydumpling.wordpress.com) They’re so sweet, feminine and fun.

      You know, even though I was tattooed at 19 myself, I think one should wait too. If I’d have been tattooed any younger I know what kind of crap I’d have had done, and I’d be looking at cover ups and laser now. Once you have a few more years under your belt, you know who you are better and what means more to you.

      Of course, there are always exceptions to that, I have a friend who is 19 with some of the most amazing ink and she’s very grounded and has chosen well. Not just something faddish or related to whatever she’s into right now.

  • I got my first tattoo at the end of 2008, the words “To Thine Own Self Be True” across my shoulderblades. Like you, I only consider getting words or images that are about ME placed permanently on my body. Like you, I love that feeling of self-acceptance and empowerment that comes from doing something that is so rare and just. for. me. I want to get two or three more; a sun and a moon on either side of the saying I already have, so it’s ‘framed’ and then a rune I designed that means ‘joyful warrior’. Great post, thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks! It seems like this has been my post popular post so far.

      Your ink sounds gorgeous and really meaningful.

  • No ink for me. In addition to the fact that I’m utterly terrified of needles, I’m also chronically indecisive. I know that the instant I picked something and went to the trouble and expense to have it inked on me, I would instantly change my mind and want something completely different.

    That said, one of these days I’m going to have someone do a henna tattoo on me. I love how they look, no needles, and they fade away in a few weeks. Now that’s a tattoo for me.

    Best of luck with the new ink! The ones you photographed are charming.

    • Twistie I’ve had henna done a few times too, it’s gorgeous. It’s become a fundraising thing here in Brisbane in suburbs that have large African communities. They get one of the ladies to have a stall at school fetes and church fundraisers. The last lady I went to was so talented, and I got nearly two weeks out of it.

      Thanks for the compliments on my ink too.

  • Wow, your tattoos are so beautiful!

    I’m only 16 so I’m not legally allowed to get a tattoo yet but I’ve been thinking about getting either a compass rose or perhaps the words “I am the captain of my fate, I am the master of my soul” one day as they are both significant to me.

    • Thanks!

      My advice is to wait until it’s a design that you just cannot imagine NOT having. When you hit that one, you know you’re ready.

  • Ink addict here!

    I have 7 tattoos.

    One on my outer right wrist which is a combination of the capital letters B and R (which are the first letters in each of my kid’s names). One on my outer left wrist which is a combination of the capital letters J and N (which are the first letters of my and my husband’s full names). One on my inner left arm which says ‘Amor Fati’ which is Latin for ‘love your fate’. A butterfly (my first tatt) on my upper left chest, a rose on my upper right chest which is a cover up of a botched design. A pentagram in a wreath of flowers on my lower back and a HUGE piece on my upper back which is two roses crossed over mid stem with a heart shaped locket between them. I am still getting the color done on that one. I have plans for more too…

    • Awesome bri. I love the Amor Fati idea. I am gagging for more tattoos, but I have to pace myself. It all costs $$.

  • No ink here, but like to see what others find important enough to decorate their bodies in, so many have stories/reasons as to why they have those words/quotes/image etc.

  • Those are wonderful tattoos, and very fitting. I believe if they make you feel beautiful then that’s fine. A celtic lower back tatto is particularly sexy. And flower tattoos also. I love your story. Keep Up the good work. I’m gonna socially bookmark your site for more to enjoy!

  • I completely agree with everything you said about finally having a reason to adorn and love a body that I have hate for most of my life. Right now I have 4. A cat sleeping under a peony tree,& a cat sugar-skull on my left ankle, a lotus flower on my right ankle, and a large phoenix on my back. I have more plans. Next will be some koi fish on my right ankle. More planned after that. I love the fact that there are so many beautiful tattooed fatties out there.
    Cat

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  • great post! i’ve got two half-sleeves (peonies and goldfish) and it took me the longest time to realize why i love them so much (and probably why i got them in the first place) — exactly as you said, they make me feel beautiful and powerful. they ARE beautiful and powerful. my fat arms (which also had spots on them i thought were unsightly) are now works of art. i also have mums on the backs of my calves. flower tats rule!

  • Although I have a low pain tolerance and don’t like needles, I really like tattoos. I find them fascinating on other people. I am still in the process of trying to figure out what design I want and where. I like the idea of adorning a part of your body that you don’t yet 100% love. If (when) I get a tattoo, not only will it have meaning in the design but it will also have great meaning in that I had the courage and perseverance to withstand the pain of getting the tattoo itself.

    • When the right piece comes along Paula, you will know. You won’t be able to imagine your body without it.

      As you read on, you’ll see I have added to my collection since this post, and most recently with a very fat positive piece!

  • 1st thing 1st- WOW! I absolutely love reading this!

    I’m a 26 year old “freak of nature” woman and proud of it!
    I have 5 piercings and one tattoo and i be damned if i let this ass backwards world define me! I am a goddess and i am perfect because i love me!

    Ladies I have been drawing my sleeve for YEARS now and can you believe now that I’m in a position to do it I am “chicken shit”? I am worried about the size of my fat ass arm! smh

    Imma get through it though. Imma wear sleeveless shits out and about my dailt life and straighten my ass out! LOL sometimes thats what you have to do- JUST JUMP IN!

    Excuse mt potty mouth lol….
    Anyways you ladies are gorgeous spirits and dont forget that!

    Yours Truly,
    Cat

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